English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor

A contact asked me about occupations recently and so I found them this really helpful article by professional genealogist Rosamunde Bott. I am sharing it here for everyone to read.

tracing ancestors in the uk

English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor
By Rosamunde Bott

Whilst rooting around in your family history, you will learn what your ancestors did for a living – at least as far back to the early 1800s. This is often one of the most fascinating aspects of discovering who your ancestors were. Whether they were a lowly agricultural labourer, or a highly respected surgeon or magistrate, the curious and wide range of English occupations can lead you to further knowledge of how they lived their lives on a day to day basis. For some people it can be exciting to discover that a creative gene, such as writing or painting has made its way down to the present.

Much of this information can be found on the census, at least back to 1841, and sometimes beyond depending on the availability of records. Some earlier parish records did mention a man’s occupation, and other records, such as directories, wills, property deeds and tax records can also give occupational details.

Many of you will have come across occupations that are now obsolete, and will often need further explanation. What, for example, is a night soil man? Or a calenderer? Or a fag ender?

The first of these might have been found in any large town or city, emptying dry toilets in the days before plumbing. Not a job I would like to imagine any of my ancestors doing – but fascinating nonetheless.

The other two are connected to the textile industry, and will usually be found in those industrial areas where cotton was being produced – for example, Manchester. A calenderer was just a generic term for a textile industry worker. A fag ender was someone employed to trim off loose bits of cloth known as fags.

If you trawl through the census records for specific areas, you will of course find a wealth of occupations connected to that area’s industry. Sticking with Manchester for the moment, you will find many jobs associated with the cotton industry, and among the weavers, winders, packers and piecers you might also come across Fustian cutters (cloth workers who trim corded cloth), beamers (people who handle materials before weaving), billiers, billy roller operations or billymen (all terms for cotton spinners) or even an impleachers (cloth weavers).

When you find that an ancestor’s origins are in a particular area, it is worth while finding out about the major industries there, because this will no doubt have had some effect on your ancestor’s life, even if he (or she) was not directly involved in it.

For example, shoemakers are known everywhere – but a shoemaker working in Manchester would probably have had a different experience to a shoemaker who worked in a more rural area, or on the coast. Is he making shoes for factory workers, agricultural labourers, fishermen or for the well-to-do?

If your ancestor moved around, it was very likely it was to find work. Undertaking a bit of historical research on the local industries can give you a good indication of why your ancestor moved from one town to another. My own great-great grandfather started out as a bricklayer in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and moved to Birmingham where he became a builder and employer. You only need to find out about the building boom going on in Birmingham in the mid-19th century to work out why he made the choice to move!

Some occupations can lead you to finding further documentation. For example, workers in skilled trades may well have started out as an apprentice, and you may find the apprenticeship records at the local record office. These can give you further details about his origins and parentage.

If your ancestor worked for a big company, it may be worth finding out whether there are staff records in existence. If the company still exists, they may even keep their own set of archives.

Not only are occupations interesting in themselves – they can lead you to find out further information, whether it is more family records, or information about how your ancestor lived, and under what conditions. Much information about trades and occupations can be found on the internet, and there are many books about various trades and industries. The Society of Genealogists publishes a range of books entitled “My Ancestor was….”

Old English occupations are varied and wide-ranging, and they can tell you much about your ancestor. Make sure you always follow up this line of enquiry and find out as much as possible about what he (or she) did for a living.

Ros is a professional genealogist and runs a UK ancestry tracing service for UK and international researchers who need help with their UK ancestry. Ros offers a one-stop-shop tracing service for all UK ancestors, or record look-ups in Warwickshire and Birmingham. Find out more at Tracing Your Ancestors

Article Source:  English Occupations: Finding More About Your Ancestor

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Over 62,000 new parish records now available at Findmypast



Have you heard that findmypast.co.uk has this week added 62,625 new parish records to the website as part of its ongoing project with the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)?

 

The new records consist of transcripts of baptism and burial registers that have been added to Findmypast’s existing collection of Cheshire, Sheffield and North West Kent parish records.

2,653 burial records spanning the years 1683 to 1850 from Church Hulme chapelry have been added in partnership with Cheshire Family History Society. The parish was called Church Hulme until 1974, when it acquired its present day name of Holmes Chapel..

15,216 records spanning the years 1867-2000 from Sheffield & District Family History Society have been added to the Sheffield, St Silas, Broomhall Street baptisms, bringing the total number of Sheffield parish baptism records to 239,220. The parish was created in 1866 when the parishes of St Peter and St Paul were merged and was called St Silas, Gilcar until it was renamed St Silas, Broomhall in 1990.

9, 756 new records have been added to Findmypast’s already extensive collection of North West Kent baptisms, which now total 28,070 records. These new additions come from the parish of Stone, St Mary the Virgin, covering the years 1718-1955 and were transcribed by North West Kent Family History Society. The 13th century church of St Mary’s has been dubbed ‘Little Westminster’ and is regarded as one of the finest in the county.

A further 35,000 records from 18 different parishes have also been added to the North West Kent burial registers, meaning the collection now houses an impressive 136,574 records. North West Kent comprises areas within the London boroughs which were historically part of Kent, such as, Greenwich, Bexleyheath and Chislehurst.

Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “Parish records are one of the most valuable tools in a family historian’s arsenal.  These exciting new additions bolster our already extensive collection of parish records and mean that now even more people, wherever they are in the world, have the opportunity to discover their UK ancestors online”.

The new records can be searched at:

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/cheshire-church-hulme-chapelry-burials-1683-1850

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/sheffield-baptisms

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/north-west-kent-fhs-baptisms

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-world-Records/north-west-kent-burials




Disclosure:Compensated affiliate links are used above.

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More Parish Records Find Their Way Online!

 

parish church recordsParish Registers are one of my great favourites among all the records available to family historians. They record something about ancestors of ours that may not have managed to get themselves recorded elsewhere in their lives, or at least in records that have survived through to today.

Every time I hear about more data, making it onto the Internet, I am thankful. My reason is that it may allow someone, somewhere, to make the right connection to their past family members that they may not have done without these databases.

I’ve been a bit busy theses last couple of weeks and missed this announcement when it first came out 9 days ago, but the Family history website findmypast.co.uk has added over 450,000 new parish baptisms, marriages and burials covering the period 1538-2009 from areas as diverse as Northumberland, Durham, Ryedale, Sheffield, Wiltshire and Suffolk to make it easier than ever to trace your ancestors further back through history and further expanding what has now become the most comprehensive collection of England and Wales parish records online. Paul Nixon, Content Licensing Manager for findmypast.co.uk commented on the new release “This is a tremendous step for those trying to uncover their UK ancestors, and a great resource for family historians with British roots worldwide”.

 

Full details of what this exciting record release contains are as follows:

 

  • 141,525 Suffolk Baptisms 1753-1911
  • 244,309 Wiltshire Baptisms 1538-1867
  • 27,420 Northumberland & Durham Burials 1587-2009
  • 22,687 Sheffield Baptisms 1837-1968
  • 8,181 Sheffield Marriages 1824-1991
  • 7,113 Ryedale Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1754-1999

 

These records are brought to you by Suffolk family history society, Wiltshire family history society, Northumberland and Durham family history society, Sheffield family history society and Ryedale family history society as a result of the ongoing partnership of findmypast.co.uk and the Federation of Family History Societies. They are available to search online now and can be viewed with PayAsYouGo credits, a Britain Full or a World subscription.

 

The records are available on all findmypast sites as part of a World subscription.

 

 


Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Findmypast.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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