Squeals of delight The wheeling dealing Osbornes

Another delightful occupational title has come to light, after a little gap filling and “new” records checking on the family tree {1}. Previously I had somehow identified 4x great grandfather Joseph Osborne as a (farm) labourer, supposedly per his son Robert’s marriage registration {5}. However, on making use of Ancestry’s Somerset collection, the original image for this event shows him to be a ‘Pig Jobber’!

As defined by a list of old occupations {2}, this is someone who “Bought pigs and then sold them off for profit”. A small time pig dealer, in other words.

Robert, his eldest son and my 3 x great grandfather, took up a similar line of work, unlike his three brothers {3}. Censuses record him in Misterton, Somerset as variously a General dealer, Horse dealer, Tranter or Hawker (plus one count of ag lab). A tranter, reckons Collins online dictionary, is “someone who sells goods while travelling from place to place”, while Old Occupations says “Peddler, often hiring himself out with his horse and cart”.

The trader streak in the Osborne line jumps a generation to the oldest daughter of William, oldest son of Robert. Annie Trask appears in the Rhondda press going bankrupt as a fish and fruit merchant in 1905, having taken on the business from her first husband who died a few years earlier. She moved to Weymouth with second husband George Trask, where they trade as fruiterers. George shows his selling bent by being caught “hawking on the beach” in 1938 at the age of 74 {4}.

Perhaps best to gloss over the school nickname for a member of a more recent generation!

Stealing or dealing?

Does this pig dealing make a number of Somerset gaol register entries for pig stealing by a Joseph Osborne more or less likely to be for our man? As per this extract:

The age of 41 (in 1844) matches, fish dealer is not a ridiculous stretch, and Ilminster gaol is the right area. The other gaol records show him received into custody 8th January 1844, tried at ‘Sessions’ rather than Assizes, and acquitted.

Robert seems to have got into trouble as well, but precisely what his ‘larceny’ involved, and any sentence received, is less clear.


  1. Pitching for a job covers another work activity that sounds odd to modern ears. Perhaps also see The changing face of work.
  2. Old Occupations section on Hall Genealogy Website. No David Cameron related pig jokes, please.
  3. See Following four brothers from Somerset.
  4. Reported by The Western Gazette 12 Aug 1938, fined £1. It is possible that this concerns his son, William George, instead – see ‘Taken to Trask‘.
  5. After deleting the incorrect info perhaps too quickly, I now recall it was a FreeReg transcription that says ‘labourer’.

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