Some common lines of work in the family tree, with links to related articles. Plus a bunch of links for useful resources on particular jobs, with a general round-up at the end of the page.
The ubiquitous agricultural labourer (often abbreviated to ‘ag lab’) is in the family tree across the board. And also plenty of domestic gardeners, largely in Norfolk.
The text of The Village Labourer 1760-1832 is available to read online or download at the Internet Archive (no need to buy the book!).
Many of those who emigrated to Canada and USA (mainly Manitoba and Nebraska) became farmers.
In Nebraska, Dale Flowerday was an academic agronomist, gaining a PhD but also providing practical insights – see Making the news makes family history. In Norfolk, Jack Boddy was farm manager and a trade union activist, becoming General Secretary of the National Union of Agricultural Workers in 1978.
The Cullum family branched out into fruit growing: A fruitful life for a Norfolk accountant.
It seems that Rees Hughes, hubbie of 3 x great aunt Elizabeth Griffiths, mined for gold in New Zealand. His brother Thomas had more success.
Mining history sites:
- Coal Mining History Resource Centre. Sadly this useful site seems to have died (at October 2016).
- Links page from Durham Mining Museum.
- Welsh coal mines.
- Welsh Mines Society More about metal mines, but also covers slate and coal.
- Digging up the Past – photo archive from South Wales coalfield.
- Cornish Mining.
- AditNow – mine exploration and history.
- National Assn of Mining History Organisations.
- Scottish Mining.
- Women and the Pits.
- Disability and Industrial Society There could be articles and other resources of interest from this academic look at industrial injuries and diseases in three British coalfields between 1780 and 1948.
The Griffiths wing of the family also were coal miners (amongst other things), in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The Annual Reports of Mine Inspectors for that area are available online – large files but give a fascinating insight into the level of incidents and fatalities. (Wilkes-Barre is in the Third Anthracite District at 1890 – boundaries may move.) Also see Recognised anthracite miner of Pennsylvania.
Levi Watkins was a pit Fireman. From Rootsweb forum post: “A man whose duty it is to examine with a safety lamp the underground workings and ways, to ascertain if gas exist, to see to doors, bratticing, stoppings etc., being in good order, and generally to ascertain that the ventilation of the mine is efficient.” The term Fireman came from the time when the job was much more dangerous, firing off gas to clear it from the workings.
Clerks, Accountants, Lawyers, Political
Most notably William J Cullum as accountant at Maconochies.
Edmund Pike (who married cousin Katie Jane Watts) was a friendly society clerk, his father Octavius a Workhouse Masters clerk.
Banking: Edwin Jeary in Nebraska, also a lawyer and politician. Jim Flowerday also in Nebraska (Lincoln).
Clark Jeary, son of Edwin, attorney-at-law and politician.
Plenty of other clerks recorded in the census – ledger and merchants clerks mainly dealing with money, solicitors clerks more on legal matters?
Jack Boddy and wife Merle in Norfolk were in local politics, and see Agriculture, above, too.
A speciality of the Howes family. But others too.
Joseph Gregory, band leader and musical instrument retailer Cardiff/Tonypandy.
Matthew Sibley (b 1893), music teacher/professional musician.
William Griffiths Davies, of Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, musician.
See A bunch of artists.
Electrical retailers – William Walters and Frank Watkins at Thomas Brothers, Llanelli, see The Electrical Connection. There are a number of links to radio/TV transmission, amateur and professional.
The job of many of the women before getting married – housemaid, cook etc. One or two also stayed in this line of work, e.g. see Making a Case for the Myhills.
Laddiman, Lake, Cullum – Norfolk. Daniel Thomas – Wilkes-Barre.
Stan Scott, Co-operative store assistant, Tonypandy.
Greengrocer: Owen Evans in Barry, Wales (also fishmonger); Gordon Feek in Cambridgeshire?; Ambrose Briselden in Catford.
Fish and fruit: Taylor family in the Rhondda (fish by train from Fishguard), connected Trask family later fruiterers in Weymouth.
Food and drink
Confectioner, baker in Norwich.
Bakers (presumably due to yeast connection) also involved in the licensed trade (pubs).
Innkeeper/publicans in Norfolk include John Harper Smith, Arthur and Elizabeth Cutlock, Denmark Dunch, the Lakes. Several barmaids and waitresses.
In south Wales valleys, John and Caroline Osborne are club stewards at 1939.
Norfolk Public houses history, Pub History Society. Info on researching Publican, Brewery and Licensed Victuallers Records on Genguide.
Especially Robert Osborne in Somerset in 19th century (and close relatives), also listed as horse dealer. Commercial travellers too.
Levi Watkins in Wales/London, Albert FW Howes in east England/Hull, and others. Insurance clerks: Herbert Howes, Horace Dawson.
Mainly in Norwich, both as individual makers/repairers and later in the factories – for the latter women particularly. StartRite Shoes history pages have some background.
Silversmith – Henry Frederick Neal in Norwich (1905-1963). “Of some repute”, he refurbished the silver in Norwich Cathedral after the war. His father Henry (b 1881) was a blacksmith, locksmith, knife maker.
Blacksmith – various, including the Girlings in Kettleburgh; farrier (and licensed victualler) Henry Andrews in Norwich.
And ‘tailoress’. Norfolk and Somerset.
Weaver, spinner, etc
Girth Web Weaver and variations, in Somerset.
Silk Mill hand in Norwich and Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania).
Lace making in Nottingham and Scranton (Shephard family).
Carpenter, bricklayer/builder, draughtsman.
Electrical engineer and inventor Theophilus Farrall.
Telephone linesman/area manager (Nebraska) Edwin James Flowerday. (Son Wayne studied electrical engineering, and worked for Boeing.)
Carter, Horseman or Groom
Arthur Howes (b 1885) in Norwich/Ipswich and wife Hilda Brock – Getting posted to the Post Office.
George Neobard in Ipswich – sub-post office and baker.
Henry Albert Price – postmaster and grocer, Moreton Corbet, Shrops.
Ernest Andrews postman Norwich, Albert Andrews sorting clerk/telegraphist Norwich.
Joseph Sibley in Chicago.
O’Briens – Charles b 1864 (printer/compositor), Charles Frederick b 1887 (printer/linotype operator) and Charles Theophilus b 1912 (typographer/journalist).
Useful link: Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records.
Various signalmen, firemen, electricians, porters, labourers, cleaners and clerks. Perhaps an engine driver or two.
Useful links: Railway Ancestors family history society, Railway Archives has info on accidents and more.
John Harper Smith b 1792, master mariner as well as publican and coal dealer. See Entirely to the Water from Birth, which also includes others from that family branch with maritime connections – a harbour master, sail maker, shipwright etc. as well as watermen, sailors.
Stanley Cullum b 1904, ships engineer, worked his way up to Chief Engineer on the Aragon (and commodore of the line). See All at sea with a new cousin.
Clifford Taylor, sauce cook on Queen Mary (and other ships).
Beasor family worked in Deptford dockyards, Thomas William (b 1861) also had a spell at sea. Edward Wallace Goodridge briefly ship’s cook.
William Cummins (b 1835, related to the Shephard family) worked his way up from tide waiter (customs on board vessels in port) in Portsea to Chief Collector of Customs in Essex. Father reputed to be a mariner.
- Accounts of life at sea from Scarborough’s Maritime Heritage Centre.
- Crew List Index Project for data on merchant seafarers on British registered ships for the years 1861 to 1913. Crew name index is available at findmypast.
- Coastguards of Yesteryear is dedicated to coastguards who lived and worked around the Irish coastline between the 18th and early 20th centuries.
- Swansea Mariners.
- Board of Trade wreck reports from 1876.
Infirmary/Asylum/Workhouse nurse or attendant, Dressmaker/Seamstress.
A missionary and clergy (from Welsh valleys). See The return and disappearance of the missionary Mays.
A few soldiers (e.g. George Henry Crundwell, Thomas Mallett).
Several policemen (Norwich and London e.g William Balls, Cyril Watts).
A distant connection to professional boxer Tommy Farr.
Also noted: one chimney sweep, and a ‘stock and share broker’ in Leeds.
- Index of Old Occupations, or Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness listings of Early Occupations.
- Scottish occupations list
- Rootschat Occupation Interests board.
- Occupations reference index on Genuki.
- GenGuide has a number of pages giving tips on researching different types of occupations.
- Story of the Lancashire cotton industry: Spinning the web.
- District Nursing 150 A celebration of the history of district nurses.
- The Mills Archive – mills, milling and the millers themselves.
- An Industrious Past blog from Archives and Records Council Wales on business archives may have the occasional interesting piece.
- British industrial history on Graces Guide.
- Photographers of Great Britain and Ireland 1840 to 1940 on Carte de Visite.
- The Stage magazine archive, started publishing 1880, for those who trod the boards.
- Organised labour: Modern Records Centre at University of Warwick has various trade union archives.
- The Union Makes Us Strong: TUC History Online, with links to Winning Equal Pay and The Workers’ War.
- Trade Union Ancestors.
- Working Class Movement Library has a large section on working lives and workers’ organisations.
Related posts on Cutlock and Co
- The changing face of work
- Pitching for a job
- Going to see Uncle
- A proud pit fireman
- Remembering the price of coal
- Putting all the Levis in order
- Cycling in, and out of, the family story
- No flight of fancy
- Notable names
- Entirely to the Water from Birth
- A bunch of artists
- My type of relation
- American as candy corn
- Double trouble
- A Farr distant cousin
- The electrical connection
- Exploring family history on a Kindle
- A recognised anthracite miner of Pennsylvania
- Uncle William comes into focus
- Getting posted to the post office
- All at sea with a new cousin
- Following four brothers from Somerset
- Photos of great great uncle Sam, farmhand
- Uncle Ernest the pharmacist
- Theophilus Farrall shipping agent and electrical inventor
- A fruitful life for a Norfolk accountant
- The show must go on ... the railway